Stuff I Like

TV
Films
Books
Television

I don't actually watch that much TV but there are some programs I don't like missing. Here are my favourites:

Tomorrow's World - Science and Technology program I have been watching for as long as I remember - I've probably been watching this for a good 20 - 25 years!

The X Files - Well, What can I say? It's just brilliant.

Horizon - In depth science program, I occasionally watch this, if that is I ever remember it's on!

The Sky at Night - One of the worlds longest running TV programs this is on for about 20 minutes once a month. I usually completely forget about it but if you want to know about the night sky it's the one to watch.

The News (preferably BBC) - I like to keep up with what's going on in the world, I also don't speak Dutch so watching other News programs is a bit pointless...

Have I got news for you? - Excellent news program which takes the piss out of just about anyone.

Star Trek (and derivatives) - Live long and prosper, Yup, I'm a Trekkie.  But I actually prefer...

Babylon 5 - FInished now but with Mysterious aliens, superbly weird spaceships, an everlasting plot and some utterly brilliant battle scenes make for what must be one of the best Sci-fi series ever made.

And any old sci-fi...


Films

I have quite a collection of DVDs, these are some of my favourites films:

The Matrix - The ultimate Geek movie, with a look to match.
2001 - over 30 years later and still the ultimate Sci-Fi movie.
Alien (1-4) - Action, Adventure, Horror and Aliens, in space, I'm just waiting for the romantic comedy version.
Contact - Written by Carl Sagen this is the story of when The Earth is contacted by another race. If you think the ending spoils it a bit watch it again, this is actually a very good film.
Dune - From Amazon.com: "Think Shakespeare's Henry IV with a dash of Tremors, and set in another galaxy".
Blade Runner - Do you dream of electric sheep?
The Fifth Element - Bruce Willis saves the world.
Dark Star - The Spaced out space film.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind - UFOs come to visit and turn a normal guys life upside down. A lot of this was based on real reported UFO experiences.

American Beauty - Beautifully made, very funny and an excellent soundtrack.
The Usual Suspects - I am Kaiser Soze.
Trainspotting - Quirky, very funny look into the lives of Heroin addicts.
American Psycho - Huey Lewis and the News's "It's Hip to be Square" will never be the same again.
12 Monkeys - Bruce Willis saves the world, again.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hysterically funny true story of a drugged out Journalist.
and anything else by Stanley Kubric or Terry Gilliam, or even Steven Speilburg.

Apocalypse Now - Truly weird Vietnam war film, the new "redux" version is even weirder.
Saving Private Ryan - Accurate and difficult to watch beginning made this one of the best war films ever made.
The Killing Fields - A true story of the horrific experiences of the Vietnam war .
Threads - BBC fact based docu-drama about what happens in a Nuclear attack, this is THE SCARIEST film you will ever watch. (difficult to find, see Amazon.co.uk).

The World at War - Excellent documentary on WW2, made in the early 70's and it's very long (> 30 hours). it would be impossible to make anything like this today and no one would be prepared to spend the money even if it was.


Books

I am not a book worm at all, well I thought I wasn't until I seen this list! It usually takes me years to read a book if that is I ever finish it, either that or I read the entire thing in two days flat. I used to read a lot of magazines but that dropped off since I've joined in the Internet and the World Wide Wait. None the less I do occasionally read the odd book and these are my thoughts on the ones I have read.

Science Fact
Science Fiction
Software Architecture
UFO
Other

Science Fact

Various - Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart may be a Maths professor but he also happens to be one of the very few people who can explain complex subjects to the masses. Natures Numbers is a fairly short book and covers quite a wide area of different topics. If you are interested in science / Maths but don't like equations read his books and start with this first. He has written many other books which go into more detail on the different subjects (still without equations) including

Natures Numbers - Ian Stewart
Start here, a fascinating intro to Science and Maths.

Does God Play Dice - Ian Stewart
All you ever wanted to know about Chaos.

Fearful Symmetry - Ian Stewart & ?
Did you think symmetry was complex enough to write a book? you bet.

The Collapse of Chaos - Ian Stewart & ?
This book spends half a book telling you about science then spends the other half telling you it's all wrong. Ever had you head turned inside out? (does go on a bit though)

Q is for Quantum, Particle Physics A to Z - John Gribben
Being an A to Z you can read this in pretty much any order you want. Quite detailed (nearly 700 pages!) but still manages to be highly readable. I haven't read it all yet but if you want a wide ranging and detailed grounding into what particle Physics is all about and who's done what, where, how and when, then this is the book to read.

The Illustrated A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking
Professor Stephen Hawkings A Brief History of Time is one of if not The biggest selling science book ever but unfortunately it blinded a few with science (Hint: Read the late Carl Sagen's Cosmos first). This new version updates some of the original writing and adds a chapter but also adds umpteen diagrams and illustrations to ease the path for the reader. Overall the book is very well presented and even better than the original which I thought was very good itself. If you want to know your Black holes from your Worm holes and what exactly the Big bang was all about this is a very, very good book.

I invented my own physics theory after being inspired by this book, it was my text book for checking it and reading about how the universe acts - thats right, I am a real live crank!

The Universe in a Nutshell - Stephen Hawking
This follow up to the A Brief History of Time brings us up to date with the latest ideas in Physics which just seem to get weirder and weirder. Some of it covers the same ground and while it's meant to be easier going I found it quite the opposite, then again it'd been a while since I'd read any Physics books. Hawkings wit is still present but it'd be wise to read another book first.

The Big Idea - Paul Strathern
This isn't a single book but a series of six short books each covering the lives of some of the biggest scientists and their ideas which have revolutionized our lives.  I have read two so far: "Einstein & Relativity" and "Newton & Gravity". Both books are less then 100 pages and can be read in about an hour they cover the lives of their subjects and how they came to their big idea which is also described in a plain english fashion. Both were very enlightening books and explain their subjects very well giving loads of details I never knew. For a mere £4 you really can't beat these.

Science Fiction

Operation Thunderchild - Nick Pope
This is Nick Pope's third book and first fiction. This is based on an apparent attack my aliens and the official reaction to it. It gives an interesting look into the world of how the country is really run and how they would react to an attack. A good thriller which just keeps you reading and reading, has an interesting premise at the end.

Douglas Adams - The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (omnibus edition)
This omnibus version contains all five books in the Hitch Hikers series, you can tell the sort of book by the fact that it says "A trilogy in five parts" on the cover. If you have seen the series you will know the sort of humour Douglas Adams writes and this is that sort of book, it is very, very funny. If you like science fiction comedy you will like this. And yes you do get to find out what Gods final message to his people was!

3001 The final oddesy - Arthur C Clark
Science fiction supremo Arthur C Clark returns with the final outing in the 2001 series. If you have ever been confused by 2001 this pretty much explains it all including what the big black monoliths are and what happened to Dave Bowman (the weird bit at the end of 2001). In this book Frank Poole who went flying off into space half way through 2001 is found drifting in space and brought back to life a millennium after going missing. The world needless to say is a somewhat different place and this is really what this book is about, I've read better books by clark but his imagination never runs out and produces a book that is certainly an interesting read.

The Hammer of God - Arthur C Clark
Another one Authers books which I found in a book shop for £3 and thought it looked quite interesting. A good choice as it happened as this is one damn good book! It's about an asteoid which is on a collision course with the Earth and being in the future they send up a special space ship to give it a shove and attempt to change it's course. This sounds simple enough especially as they already have a space ship designed especially for this purpose but things don't quite go to plan... This book is full of twists and turns and unexpected happenings. Highly reccomended.

Software Architecture

The Software Architect's Profession, an introduction - Sewell, Sewell
Written by two experienced Software Architects this book is a through introduction to the world of Software Architecture. What it is and why it is becoming increasingly important. I though there was a better way to produce software, there is and this book tells you all about it. Amazingly nearly 90% of software is produced badly but this will change and books like this are leading the way. This book will not teach you how to model software and it is absolutely not a coding book, A software Architect is different from a programmer and requires a different skill set and mind set. This book goes into the detail of what an Architect shall do and needs to know, it will appeal to those who are interested in Software Architecture who have the correct mind set, It will not appeal to all programmers. If you are new to the field and want an introduction to what is involved or if you want to go in this direction I strongly recommend this book.

Software Architect Bootcamp - Malveau, Mowbray
This is a fairly short book which is more of an argument in favor of Software Architecture than anything else. The book starts describing what is wrong with software and the goes on to describe the profession of Architect for buildings and it's history. It then makes a case for dividing up software into separate areas of expertise and how the Software Architect will fit in. If you want to know what a Software Architect is and more importantly why we need them this book has it covered. There are plenty of scare stories of what happens when things go wrong and an excellent description of what would happen if you used a software development method in building a house - a mess! It is meant as an introduction and is not a technical book and in this purpose fulfills it's purpose perfectly, I hope a lot of people read this book, they really need to.

UFO

Open Skies Closed Minds - Nick Pope
Nick Pope was the UK Ministry of Defences official UFO investigator for three years and didn't think much about the subject until he was given the Job. Most UFO reports turn out to be planes or planets or all sorts of other things but there are some (5-10%) which are a real mystery. Nick Pope investigated these and found that there were some questions to be asked and indeed concluded that we were indeed being visited by someone or something from above. This book is fascinating and got me and probably many others interested in the subject (I've been reading UFO Magazine ever since). It turns out there is a lot more to UFOs than the odd light in the sky and he is not the only official who is convinced that we are being visited from above. There are admittidly a lot of nuts in the UFO field but Nick Pope is not one of them, this book lets you know what's really going on.

The Uninvited - Nick Pope
This is Nick Pope's second book which this time deals with the subject of so called Alien abductions.  A better written book than his first and a well researched book which goes into some detail about contact with what he calls "non-human" intelligence's.  This book covers all sorts of theories and serves as a brilliant introduction to the abduction subject as a whole.  He presents a guide to the general experiences said to happen then relates a number of new rather strange cases which he has investigated. Overall a fascinating and well written book which leads you into the bizarre world of alien abductions and all that goes with them.  The ramifications of some of the subjects raised are at the very least shocking.  Whatever your opinion of these so called abductions you can be sure of one thing - something truly bizarre is and has been going on for a very long time.

Out There - Howard Blum
Another UFO book but this time from the other side of the pond. This guy is an award winning author and got into this almost by mistake but did a great deal of investigation to write a very interesting book. It tells the story of a military group set up to investigate the subject and some of what they investigated. It does drag on a bit but it gives very good background information about how the US authorities have been investigating UFOs despite all their denials (including very recent ones).

Other

How to cook - Delia Smith
Want to know how to cook but don't know where to even start? These books (and TV series) was written for such people. It took a lot of (unfair) flack for being too simple but if you don't know the last thing about cooking (like me) you need some guidance and this is a damn fine place to start. I use it as reference more than anything and haven't followed any of the recipes but when I get something from the local supermarket and wonder what I'm meant to do with it this is where I look.


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